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Congress abandons constraints on Kurdish aid

US lawmakers wary of Iraqi Kurds’ independence push have shelved their concerns amid Baghdad’s Iran-backed push to reassert control.
Vehicles of Kurdish Peshmarga Forces are seen near Altun Kupri between Kirkuk and Erbil, Iraq October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari - RC1FFF872240

Congress put the Iraqi Kurds on notice this summer against going forward with their independence vote. In the aftermath of Baghdad’s heavy-handed response, however, congressional ire is falling squarely on the central government.

US lawmakers’ new attitude is most evident in the final version of national defense legislation released Nov. 8. While the original House bill made US military aid to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “contingent upon KRG participation in the government of a unified Iraq,” final compromise legislation between the House and Senate contains no such warning (the Department of Defense has requested $365 million in stipends and sustainment for Kurdish peshmerga forces for fiscal year 2018).

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